The Department of Energy said last week it would provide $7 million in funding for the research and development of innovative technologies for low-impact hydropower systems. The funding will help advance hydropower drivetrains, which transfer rotational energy from turbines to generators, and structural foundations that will minimize environmental impacts and reduce the lifetime costs associated with operating and maintaining new hydropower projects.
While hydropower already supplies roughly 7 percent of America’s electricity and is the leading source of renewable power, the nation still has significant untapped resources across the country where new hydropower generating capabilities could boost the nation’s supply of carbon-free energy. Recent DOE reports show that the U.S. has an additional 65 GW of hydropower potential in undeveloped rivers and streams and more than 12 GW of hydropower potential—if fully developed—at our nation’s non-powered dams. New and advanced hydropower technologies will help harness these major opportunities for clean, renewable energy that can help address climate change.
While this funding opportunity supports a wide variety of technological innovations for new hydropower development, specific areas of interest include:
- New, rapidly deployable and removable hydropower technologies, such as innovative prefabricated structures, water impoundment structures, and water conveyance systems.
- Innovative methods and materials for the construction of hydropower facilities.
- Innovative hydropower powertrain and generator components, such as advanced composite materials and replaceable turbine blade technologies.
This effort to develop advanced water power technologies is part of the Energy Department's broader Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, which aims to increase American competitiveness in the production of clean energy products and boost U.S. manufacturing competitiveness across the board by increasing energy productivity.